Jazz

Jazz dance has two meanings, depending on the era. Both dance forms are related by evolution.

• Until the middle of the 1950s, jazz dance in shows meant mostly tap dance, because jazz was the music and tap was the main dance of the era. American “tap dancing” has its roots both in the “Irish” folk dance tradition and in the African dance tradition.

Also, during the jazz era, a popular form of jazz dance was Swing dancing and its related dances Cakewalk, Black Bottom, Charleston, Lindy Hop, all forms of dance commonly danced to jazz music.

Another essential root of jazz dance comes from the [African American Vernacular Dance] from the late 1800’s up until the mid 1900’s. After the 1950’s, pioneers such as Kathrine Dunham took the essence of caribbean traditional dance and made it into a performing art.

• Since the fifties, with the growing domination of other forms of entertainment music, jazz dance evolved with broadway choregrapher into a new, smooth, modern Broadway style that is taught today and known as Modern Jazz, while tap dance continued to evolve on its own.

An early popular “jazz dancer” was vaudeville star Joe Frisco in the 1910’s. He danced in a loose-limbed style close to the ground, with eccentric steps, and juggled his derby and cigar. Jazz dance is a form of dance commonly used in Broadway shows and movies. Jazz is more a contemporary kind of dance as compared to ballet, for instance. Even though jazz dancing might look easy and fun when the dancers do it, the dancers have to be in really good shape, and practice sometimes six hours a day. Some traditional musical jazz numbers are All That Jazz and Chicago.

Both Jazz dance and modern dance techniques are based on the basics of the old ballet tradition, even though both forms where considered to rebellions against it. To excel in jazz dance, the dancer must master ballet techniques. In jazz dancing the movements are big and exaggerated and there is usually an attitude the dancer conveys to the audience.